San Tan Valley, AZ (Arizona Republic) - An 11-year-old Arizona girl is safe after asking for a "code word" when approached by a stranger in the San Tan Valley, just outside of Phoenix, the Pinal County Sheriff's Office said.
On Wednesday, the girl and a friend were walking around 3:45 p.m. near a park when a man driving in a white SUV pulled up next to them.
The man told the girl that her brothers were in a serious accident and she needed to come with him. The girl asked for the "code word," which is a prearranged word that she and her parents had come up with in case someone else needed to pick her up.
The man did not know the code word and drove away, the sheriff's office said.
The vehicle he was driving was possibly similar to a Ford Explorer.
The sheriff's office described the man as white, with a short beard who is possibly in his 40s. The man covered most of his face with his hand while talking to the girl.
The sheriff's office said children have seen the SUV in the neighborhood, circling a park several times a day.
“Kudos to the parents of this child for having a code word and talking ... to their children about stranger danger,” Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb said.“We hope by putting this out, it will encourage parents to have that conversation and create a plan with their children, so they know what to do if they are in that situation.”
People are asked to be on alert and call the Pinal County Sheriff's Office at 520-866-5111 with any information on the case.